Air alarms blared up and down Russia warning of an imminent missile attack – only for it to turn out to be a ‘hack’.
Commercial radio stations in nearly a dozen cities rang out with an emergency message across at least four time zones this morning.
The alleged civil defence siren said: ‘Attention: an air raid alert is in effect. Proceed to shelters immediately. Attention, attention, missile strike threat.’
It sounded in Pyatigorsk, Tyumen, Voronezh, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Magnitogorsk, Stary Oskol, Ufa, Belgorod, Novouralsk and a number of places in the Moscow region, according to reports.
The siren was heard by civilians on their car radios (Picture: Social media/EAST2WEST NEWS)
Footage posted by the Telegram channels Baza and Ostorozhno, Novosti shows civilians tuning in to the alert from their car radios.
The message was broadcast by channels such as Russian FM2, Business FM and Comedy Radio as well as Moscow stations AvtoRadio, Humour FM and Radio Culture.
A spokesman for Gazprom Media, a company behind several hacked stations, said: ‘We are dealing with this issue. This will not happen again in the near future.’
Both federal and regional authorities played down the broadcast, saying it was the doing of hackers.
The regional government in Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, said: ‘Information about a missile strike and an air alert on one of the radio frequencies in Belgorod is fake.
‘One of the radio stations on the morning of February 22 was hacked, presumably from the Ukrainian side.’
Federal emergency officials said the alert was down to hackers (Picture: Social media/EAST2WEST NEWS)
While the Voronezh region, without any evidence, blamed ‘accomplices of the Kyiv regime’ for the warning, according to Baza.
Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations said: ‘A hacker attack on the servers of several commercial radio stations in some regions of the country resulted in the airing of information about an alleged air raid alert and the threat of a missile strike.
‘The Russian Emergencies Ministry reports that this information is fake and does not correspond to reality.’
It comes just a day after online broadcasts of Vladimir Putin’s lengthy state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly, Russia’s parliament, went offline.
Media outlets owned by All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VG TRK), a state broadcaster, were targeted by cyber attackers.
Smotrim.ru, a live-streaming platform that shows the state-operated Rossiya-24 channel, also went down, according to the Russian state-owned news agency Tass.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s marathon address was also hacked (Picture: Sputnik/AP)
The outage was reportedly the result of a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, where hackers flood the servers that run a target’s website with so much traffic it buckles under the weight.
While it is unclear who or what was behind the disruption, a pro-Ukraine cyberwarfare group claimed responsibility.
IT Army of Ukraine tweeted: ‘We launched a DDoS attack on channels showing Putin’s address to the federal assembly: 1TV, VGTRK and SMOTRIM.
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‘Attention, attention, missile strike threat.’